top of page

Fatal Games (1984)

Guest post by Kit Lively, a comedy writer and cartoonist who has been published by National Lampoon, MAD Magazine, Playboy, and many others. He is currently the Managing Editor at Weekly Humorist.

You think you've got it rough? Man, you've got no idea. The kids in the 80's, they had it rough. No internet, no IPhones! You had to play video games by yourself unless you were lucky enough to own more than one joystick! I think that maybe they had air conditioning, but I'm not sure.

And they couldn't go anywhere or do anything without being targeted by a vengeance-seeking psychopath, armed to the yellow 80's teeth with a bevy of sharp weapons, eager to slice up said kids with said weapons. And the killer was even usually someone that they knew/thought was cool!

Summer camp? Totally out of the question. Slumber parties? Are you nuts? Sorority dances? Nope. High school? Well, okay, yeah...that's probably even more dangerous these days.

Still, the point stands.

Take the kids who are attending the Falcon Academy of Athletics. They're working really hard, pushing it to the limit doing snazzy gymnastics routines to the thumping beat of rocking 80's pop tunes, only taking the occasional break to have long, fully nude conversations with one another. They navigate relationship and parental problems familiar to those viewers who enjoy DeGrassi Jr. High, all while undergoing both intense steroid treatments and full nude massages from adult staff members. (The latter is okay though, I think, as the students seem to be at least as old if not older than most of the staff—although that could perhaps be explained away by the steroid subplot.)

As if that wasn't enough to deal with (and I'm assuming that, being gymnasts and swimmers, they spend quite a bit of time shaving uncomfortable areas as well), they've currently got a hooded-tracksuit wearing, javelin-wielding killer stalking the halls of their school (or university, maybe? I honestly could never tell).

Fatal Games is one of those slasher movies that does everything right for the right audience who will appreciate it's efforts. It's not a top-tier slasher that you can use to convert friends into coming around and feeling the same love that you have for the subgenre. But for the already initiated, it hits all of the proper marks on time: A mysterious killer in a fun costume skulking about in the shadows, their heavy breathing filling the soundtrack. An extremely fun, synth heavy soundtrack of menacing bleeps that only seems to pop up whenever the killer enters the frame. Very well executed (yep, pun intended) kill scenes that aren't especially gory, but still pretty bloody—and surprisingly realistic. The identity and motive of the killer is jaw-droppingly un-PC these days, but why even bother watching this kind of stuff if you're not going to savor the occasional full-body wince?

Plus the aforementioned nude characters having extended naked conversations while the camera leers, the only ones oblivious to the ridiculousness seemingly the characters themselves.

Fatal Games sadly hasn't had a legitimate release since the days of VHS, but those with an interest in checking it out should be able to find a watchable copy without having to navigate the dark web. And try to take a moment to be thankful that, unlike the kids in the 80's, you don't even have to leave the house and possibly wander into the path of a bloodthirsty maniac seeking imagined retribution. Although, still probably a good idea to keep an eye on whoever's sharing that house with you. A warm, pleasant smile can hide the psychotic rage of a lunatic, y'know.

bottom of page